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Hundreds Honored at 2023 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in STEM Conference

MexicaTiahui Aztec Dance Group

SACNAS Executive Director, Juan Amador; Portland State University Associate Professor, Paola López-Duarte and PhD; SACNAS President, Charla Lambert, PhD., Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory at the National Diversity

Marvi Matos Rodriguez, Ph.D., Director of Engineering at The Boeing Company

Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in STEM fall conference in Portland, Oregon, shattered attendance records.

Many of us have experienced the sensation of not fitting into certain spaces. At SACNAS, I feel just right. I feel immensely proud of everything I am.”
— Paola López-Duarte, Ph.D, 2023 Distinguished Mentor Award Winner

PORTLAND, OR, UNITED STATES, November 16, 2023 / -- Unveiling a triumphant finale on October 28, the SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science) National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) Conference in Portland, Oregon, shattered records with an unprecedented surge of nationwide enthusiasm. The three-day event captivated over 6500 attendees from coast to coast, U.S. Territories and internationally. It reached new heights of inspiration and accomplishment, culminating in a spectacular awards ceremony that lit up the award ceremony.

Against the backdrop of an electrifying performance by the MexicaTiahui Aztec Dance Group, the stage was set for an unforgettable keynote address by Marvi Matos Rodriguez, Ph.D., Director of Engineering at The Boeing Company. Dr. Rodriguez seamlessly wove a narrative of motivation and empowerment, leaving the audience invigorated and ready to conquer new frontiers in STEM.

In a significant moment of recognition, the 2023 Distinguished Mentor Award found a worthy recipient in the esteemed Paola López-Duarte, Ph. of Portland State University. Dr. Lopez-Duarte reflected on her achievement, "Many of us have experienced the sensation of not fitting into certain spaces. At SACNAS, I feel just right. I feel immensely proud of everything I am."

Elevating the conference to a realm of transformative impact was student research presentations, which emerged as the heartbeat of the event. The 1,1000 presenters included 1,040 first-time presenters and 613 first-generation college students. Participants honed their presentation skills, received personalized mentorship, and delved into constructive feedback on their groundbreaking research.

"It was such a meaningful and valuable experience as I was able to connect with many mentors who were all generous in giving me career and grad school advice," shared attendee Angel Dulay. Dulay, a junior majoring in Biology at the University of Portland, won the Best Undergraduate Research Poster in the Life Sciences - Genetics category. "SACNAS is a safe space where people from unique backgrounds can come together and connect through science. I hope to bring this same inclusive and inviting space [to] our campus."

SACNAS Executive Director Juan Amador, FASAE, CAE, said these awards change lives. "When we try to quantify our impact, we can't fully capture the confidence that our attendees build from meeting with our industry-leading partners and sharing their research with colleagues in higher education and government," he explained. "Through the awards ceremony, we celebrate and commend attendees' incredible work in their chosen STEM fields."

New this year is the Tribal College/University Student Research Award. Currently, there are 37 Tribal colleges/Universities (TCUs) located across the country, primarily located on tribal reservations/tribal communities.

In addition to students, SACNAS honors Chapters throughout the country:

University of Houston: Graduate & Professional Chapter of the Year
University of Guam: Undergraduate Chapter of the Year
University of Colorado Boulder: Achievement in Fundraising
University of California Davis Grad and Postdocs: STEM Diversity Award
University of Michigan: Community Outreach
University of California Los Angeles: Justice, Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Award.

Special Honors for Chicano/Hispanic, Native American/Indigenous, and other underrepresented STEM professionals:

Distinguished Mentor: Paola Lopez-Duarte, Ph.D., Portland State University
Distinguished Scientist: Santiago Schnell, PhD., University of Notre Dame
Outstanding College/University Mentor: Joslynn Lee, Ph.D.
Outstanding Research & Professional Mentor: Giovanna Guerrero Medina, Ph.D.
Outstanding Native American Student Mentor: Kamuela Yong, Ph.D.
Outstanding Hispanic Student Mentor: Teresa Ramirez, Ph.D.

Student Presentation Awardees:

Animal Sciences/Zoology, Marine Sciences & Plant Sciences/Botany: Miguel Angel Rosas, Washington State University
Astronomy & Astrophysics: Guadalupe Tovar Mendoza, University of Washington, Seattle
Biochemistry & Genetics: Natalie Sahabandu, University of California, Davis
Cancer Biology: Yvonne Vasquez, University of California, Santa Cruz
Cell/Molecular Biology: Manette Tanelus, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Cell/Molecular Biology & Developmental Biology: Evan Morrison, University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus
Chemical Engineering: Gabrielle Balistreri, University of Washington
Computer & Information Sciences, Statistics & Engineering: Juan Florez-Coronel, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
Ecology/Evolutionary Biology I: Aracely Martinez, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans
Ecology/Evolutionary Biology II: Nicole Doran, University of Washington
Electrical & Mechanical Engineering: Luis Rafael Miranda Rodriguez, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Other Geoscience: Allison Chartrand, The Ohio State University
Inorganic Chemistry: Jenna Bustos, Oregon State University
Materials Research: Kimberly Lopez-Zepeda, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Microbiology: Luis Valentin, University of California, Berkeley
Neurosciences and Genetics: Jace Kuske, University of California, Davis
Neurosciences, Psychology (general), and Other Psychology & Social Sciences: Mia Pacheco, Texas A&M University
Organic Chemistry & Other Chemistry: Luis Cervantes, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Physics: Christopher Gonzalez, University of California Irvine
Physiology/Pathology & Public Health: Thien Phan, Texas A&M University School of Medicine
STEM Education & Learning: Janet Mansaray, Louisiana State University
Traditional Knowledge: Z. Zenobia, Cal Poly Humboldt

Chemistry: Emmanuel Rivera-Iglesias, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Engineering: Esai Lopez, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Life Sciences: Jaila Lewis, University of Houston
Life Sciences: Gabriel Escobedo, Baylor College of Medicine
Traditional Knowledge: Shania Tamagyongfal, University of Hawaii at Hilo

Health: Mariah Lee, Diné College
Materials Research: Layla James, Navajo Technical University

Health: Brianson Yazzie, Northern Arizona University
Life Sciences: Olivia Anderson, University of Washington
Psychology & Social Sciences: Mariah Brigman, Washington State University

A complete list of Undergraduate Poster Presentations
Download the 2023 SACNAS Conference Student Research Presentation Abstract Book.

The 2024 Conference will be held October 31 - November 2, 2024, in Phoenix, Arizona.

For 50 years, SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and leadership positions within STEM. Today, the organization serves a growing community of over 28,000 supporters, including 10,000+ members, and 144 student and professional chapters throughout the United States and territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam.

Mary Louise VanNatta
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Your Story is Our Story: 2023 SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science) National Diversity in STEM Oregon Conference